Montreal retailers reopening, with distancing measures in place

Many retail stores in Montreal area opened their doors Monday for the first time since March, with customers being asked to remain spaced apart and follow hygiene protocols.

Caption courtesy by Bloomberg

Mask-wearing, Plexiglas barriers, frequent disinfecting and no-touch browsing were some of the measures put in place by retailers as Quebec eased restrictions imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19.

By 10:30 a.m., dozens of people were lined up outside a downtown Zara outlet, many eager to get summer clothes.

They were greeted at the door by masked employees and a hand-sanitizing station, while a sign warned that the number of customers would be limited.

Zuleyha Sen said she was going to get new clothes for her almost eight-year-old son. She said he’d grown since last year, and online orders have been delayed due to the pandemic.

“I won’t go in for a long time, I’m just hoping to grab several things,” she said.

Premier Francois Legault is allowing retail stores in the hard-hit region to reopen, as long as they can be accessed directly from outside and customers can keep a distance from one another.

The province has repeatedly urged customers to wear non-medical face masks when out in public but has stopped short of making them mandatory.

Some store owners say they’re adapting to the new reality by limiting customers, offering appointments and offering contactless pay and options to collect orders made online.

Despite the high numbers of COVID-19 cases in Montreal, another woman in line at the Zara store, Irina Vasiliu, said she had no qualms about shopping. She said she felt a retail store was no more dangerous than grocery shopping and trusted the government officials that gave the green light.

Nevertheless, she said she already knew what she needed and wouldn’t do any unnecessary browsing.

While many of those waiting in line wore masks, both Sen and Vasiliu said they felt safe without them.

Non-essential shops outside Montreal were allowed to reopen May 4. Shopping malls remain closed for now, while hairdressers, estheticians and tattoo artists outside Montreal will be allowed to open on June 1.